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 Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?

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June99



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PostSubject: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:16 pm

First topic message reminder :

[Admin note:  this thread was split from the thread about Rev. Bridin's leave of absence, under "Keeping in Touch", in order to give the offshoot discussion a chance to continue while helping the original thread get back to the purpose for which it was created.  June99's name shown as the author since her post was the first in sequence to be split, but this is only a function of the forum software.]

I was at the Abbey when Rev. Bridin was a postulant many, many years ago. She was kind, smart, and very sincere. I also remember her getting scolded in the kitchen by Rev. Leon for not cleaning a bowl correctly and doing what he said.  It was uncomfortable watching someone 20-30 years younger scolding her like a child.
I hope she feels happy and free now. The announcement that she is taking time to "clarify her spiritual purpose" rubs me the wrong way. It's seems they are trying to send the message that they know better and her decision has nothing to do with them. They should quote her reason for leaving instead of sounding like an authority on the matter.
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pete x. berkeley



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:59 am

you got me chuckling there persons! Amen to all of that.  On the other hand? I've been a petty tyrant at times myself, my conscience reminds me.  I think it comes down to Carl Sagan's reprising Chaos (disorder) vs Cosmos (ordered universe) of the Greek ideas...petty tyrants (a term from Carlos Castaneda/"Don Juan") I forget which book but great stories...too bad they don't seem to be true! (Sorceror's Apprentice by Amy Wallace I think was her expose autobiography)...in any case...petty tyrant...

so how to objectify this quest: The Isan Challenge ("What went wrong?") as we remember, "When the opposites arise, you have almost lost the way to salvation.") so Dogen doesn't want us to go: on the one hand, and on the other hand, either/or, as if that's as far as our thinking can extend because that's how many hands we have...we need that Hindu goddess with the thousand arms really to encompass some real world problems...!
But, in any case...it dawns that there's a plus and a minus nomenclature we could look it, to remove the personal i.d. element...in which case:
Plus (+) is the disciple bowing in full prostration at the Master's feet, vowing full compliance. But what of the disciple who's done this and senses a serious difficulty? They stand up and leave...that's a minus (-).  What of the disciple who senses the difficulty but doesn't want to say or do anything--hopes it blows over (the foxholer)...the minus and plus cancel out to neutral (0).  But these aren't the only positions:
+, -, 0
because? You can be plus and minus on someone, or minus and plus, depending on which is in the ascendancy. 

The disciple who stands up after prostration "we must be completely humble before the Buddhas and Patriarchs" (+) and turns his or her back (-) without stepping away, is holding the supposed opposites in dynamic tension--there's still a chance for positive change. This is a -/+ disciple. The negative is in the ascendancy.
 
The other disciple who prostrates (+) and stands up and faces the teacher with a will to initiate change which is a challenge to authority and therefore deemed a minus (-) is a +/- disciple.

This has been done to me when I was being obstreperous...it's what Shakespeare talked about in Hamlet's soliloquy..."who would fardels bear? or the proud man's contumely"

I know I wouldn't if I had a real choice that didn't get me hacked into bouillon cubes of cat soup.

"If you express by fancy words, it is all stained." still "I gotta use words when I talk to you..." T.S. Eliot said..."What can I give you love?  Words, words, as if all worlds were there..." Robert Creeley said.

somewhere there's a plus sign, a minus sign, a neutral sign, and the hybrid signs swirling around in ionic stress strain and dynamic interaction.

which is the best way to go? which is the solution to the Lise Challenge? ("How to correct a teacher?")

Isn't it the +/-  and? preferably in private, so someone can back down with dignity.

"The worst thing you can do is confront someone bluntly" Carlos has Don Juan say.
"The worst thing you can do is hurt someone's feelings" Maharaj Charan Singh said.

why? I asked myself...I thought being cut into cat soup boullion cubes would be worse...why? because it's karma and the start of violence to be willing to hurt someone, to confront them bluntly.

at the end of the day? It's night ("and you will be cast outside into the darkness, where there will be a weeping, and a gnashing of teeth.")
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chisanmichaelhughes



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:12 pm

Yes with gnashing of teeth ,prostrations in and out of foxholes and carefully walking backwards, how can the master point the way when every moment is new?
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:21 pm

Could Hyakujo tell us the 500th time?  Or would it take 500 times?
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chisanmichaelhughes



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:29 pm

What would take 500 times Enida
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:33 pm

It is almost winter here new friend Smile

But I remember spring and hope to be alive for the next one!
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:43 pm

Well I hope so,
One of my friends mum died this week,and a young girl I know slashed her wrists,It is very difficult not to carry our karma,our troubles,it is very difficult to free our selves of our selves,but however we see life, however we see our situation,I like to believe it is empty of permanence, which hopefully will give comfort to those that need it
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:52 pm

I am so sorry to hear that Michael. 

I have some friends whose children both committed suicide ten years apart.  As a parent myself, I oftened wondered how they were coping with all the myriad aspects of that karma.  I ran into them recently and had a chat and they were doing well and were committed to their spiritual life more than ever as a result. 

It reminded me of when we would do alms rounds in Mt. Shasta.  As people offered food into the alms bowl a monk would ask them if there was anyone they wanted to dedicate their offering to and they would invariably name something close to their mind and heart.  It was so moving to experience the offering of merit right in the very middle of suffering.

I hope your friends find peace and meaning in their experiences of suffering.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:45 pm

Thank you Enida I hope so too.
I may well offer the young girl a home as there are a few issues for her,on the basis she follows some regulation,and I get to call her rat face (Which I do anyway!)
 it is peculiar you know someone whose children committed suicide. it must be very difficult and soul searching for the parents, I have come across this myself,it is almost like there is an heredity type of depression, i would not know if that is so, we humans are quite frail sometimes aren't we
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pete x. berkeley

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:50 pm

Psst...Hyakujo's fox...a Zen Master gave the wrong answer...then what happens?
Hyakujo's Fox | 101 Zen Stories
www.101zenstories.org/hyakujos-fox/
Apr 2, 2010 - Whenever Hyakujo delivered a Zen lecture, an old man was always there with the monks listening to it; and when they left the Hall, so did he.

I'm gonna try one more time to bile that cabbage down, boy, turn turn the hoe cake round...on the Lise Challenge:
The options for dealing with a teacher:
"planking" (as it's called now) in front of the Master (+)
"foxholing" (ducking/hiding from the Master's difficult behavior) trying to believe it's neutral.
"180-ing" (-/+) turning away, but not leaving. Somewhat closed, somewhat open to making amends.
exiting (-) it's defined as "negative" just as a vector on the X-Y axis...it may be the best thing to do?
facing up (+/-) another chance to make a change for the better...may turn into a face up or a squaring off...in which case, leaving is defusing the situation, or at least turning one's back, as a first option to bailing out.
Now, just the math:

+
0
-/+
-
+/-
___
= 50%
A person only gets 50% of the relationship to work on.

So: For the Lise Challenge I submit the response: +/- is the best first response...being a shade more positive than negative, but not denying the negative, and speaking to it, the more private, the better.  As it says in the I Ching (Bollingen edition) "Do not drag someone censoriously into the light."


However, given that there are 5 logical possibilities for one person to behave, it stands to reason there's 5 for the other...at this point, my low math skills can't scrape up the permutations and combinations.  Again from the I Ching, "Stay with cause and leave results to the great law of the universe."
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:14 pm

Aha the maths test theory
or find the right answer to the impossible question in a logical manner reason it out use the right words
1+1 =3 x
1+1 =2 x
1+1=1 x
1+1 must=0x
Dont care ✔
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Fri Nov 15, 2013 7:47 pm

Where does the snow fall
Ah! Only here, only here
And then only now
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:56 am

Traipsing about the foothills
How could i miss the glorious sight of
Mount Fuji
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H Sophia



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:07 pm

Hi everyone,

This is an excerpt from a 3 page essay Eko gave to Enida and I.  In fact he read it out loud at one of his public Sunday Dharma talks at Shasta Abbey.  RM Meian and RM Daishin were both in attendance, if I recall correctly,  so everyone knew this is what he was teaching.  He also gave us this essay at his Lay Disciples retreat.  It addresses directly his teaching on why one does not correct a master or question his behavior.  I will be happy to provide the entire 3 pages, since it is taken out of context, but this is the part that addresses his teaching to the trainees on questioning the behavior of the Zen Master.



.......

.....



Sophia
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H Sophia



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sat Nov 16, 2013 11:23 pm

Hi everyone,

I failed at cutting and pasting the article onto OBC Connect.  Then I failed at posting the entire article. So I got help creating a link to a server where the article is posted.  However, I could only do one page per link.  So in order to read the article click on each link in turn.  Sorry I couldn't manage to get the article on the site any other way.  Thank you for your patience,

Sophia


Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:09 am

I find it helpful when other people who practice are OK with their humanity,and also truthful about their practice, For me it is not so much about perfect practice it is the willingness and right effort to practice Buddhism this teaching without teaching will guide the community including  him/herself to the right way
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:57 am

From Sheng-Fen's material quoted by M. Little:

"I can make mistakes. But that is my privilege, and my disciples do not share it."

"Even if a master lies, steals, or chases women though knowing perfectly well that such choices are contrary to the Vinaya -- indeed, even if he does so in view of his disciples -- he is still considered to be a true master so long as he scolds his disciples if they too commit transgressions."

" . . . the student should treasure the master's teachings, but wink at any of his failings in conduct."

Sophia, do you remember approximately when he gave the talk? You mentioned it was on a Sunday -  if it's posted on SA's website I'll add the .mp3 link to your post. 

Did you get a sense that he was quoting this material because he wanted to remind people that his behaviour was not subject to their review/questioning?  Was this during the time his behaviour with Kimberly was becoming noticeably odd?
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:04 am

I will just add I think it smells of double standards, and abuse of power,and a load of nonsense
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:15 am

I remember talking to RM Eko about this article trying to understand whether it was good teaching for me or whether it was turning the other cheek on misbehavior. In my thinking, it was obvious everything teaches the truth, but should that excuse bad behavior? It explained why monks rarely apologized for their actions.

I guess that's why the Ethics Committee meant so much to me. It would create an unbiased venue to address specific concerns and ultimately inform the Sangha of needed changes.

If it is true that the Ethics Committee is not an integral part of change going forward, then there is still no oversight of senior monks and their behaviors toward others with less authority. As they say in 12-step, "Nothing changes if nothing changes." Sadly, the abuse is bound to repeat itself.

1. Why is a senior monks behavior above reproach?

2. Why don't monks apologize?

3. Is the master/disciple relationship possible without the potential for abuse?
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:41 am

Hi,

I don't remember when he read that as part of his Dharma talk.  The Lay Disciples Retreat was before I went to live at the Monastery and he gave it to us then.  The dharma talk, I think, was after I was a Chaplain.  The only reason I remember is because some of the lay people questioned it at Sunday tea after the Dharma talk. He gave a series of talks on the Awakening of Faith that were amazing. That series lasted for over a year. It was after that, I think.

I think the obvious reason to give that article to trainees is to encourage the trainees to not question your behavior. I'm not sure what was going on at the time, but whatever it was, someone was probably criticizing him for it.

On another subject. I have had monks come back to me and apologize very sincerely after they spoke sharply to me.  RM Meian apologized many times for whatever part she had in the harm done to the Novices and lay trainees.  To me, it's not the lack of apologies, it's not doing anything to make sure the same thing doesn't happen again. The apology loses credibility when the wrong keeps occurring and the person again apologizes.  The apology needs to include the intention not to do it again.

Sophia
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:05 am

I remember asking rm eko one about apologizing, especially how it relates to contrition and conversion. My experience in recovery was that making amends informed my future. He said something to the effect that apologizing was a Christian view. I'm still not clear on the distinction...

It want that some monks didn't apologize some of the time, my experience was that it want the
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:08 am

Oops....pushed send by accident..

My experience when I was at the Abbey was that it wasn't the norm or part of the teaching.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:18 am

I did not quite get your last line Enida.
I agree with what Sophia and you are saying and working out re apology. i think monks and doctors are under pressure maybe more types of professions (lawyers thats a joke for Carol)
I think they (with the exception of Carol) are under pressure to be right,I feel this is contrary to zen practice and unhelpful,we are human beings stumbling and fumbling,making mistakes learning anf as Sophia said doing something about the mistakes so it does not happen again,i think when we make mistakes and do not make changes ,our cover up sort of hardens what our approach is and things get worse.i also feel when we loose sight of what spphia says we loose sight of zen practice completely.i do not think a'teacher' teaches from a position of perfection, he teaches from the reality of where he/she is
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:19 am

Your last line my reply
it should have been Enida
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:25 am

Doctrine & traditions aside, isn't it a shared understanding among humans generally that we say sorry when we've done something wrong? Not just think to ourselves "oh, that wasn't good, I shouldn't have done that", but actually say it to the persons affected,  "That was wrong and I'm sorry."  And as Sophia says, add the part about "I will try very hard never to do that again".
 
The next time Maisie visits the forum I hope she'll say more about Haryo Young's comment that she heard during one of his dharma talks at Throssel (in 2011?). Something to the effect that Buddhist shouldn't indulge in regret or make apologies. I'm paraphrasing, I don't know what he actually said or the context of it.  I do believe dharma talks tell you a lot about the speaker's state of mind and beliefs, and the organisation they belong to.

Enida, what are your thoughts on apologies? You asked some interesting questions, and I wonder how you would answer them?
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:33 am

Lise if  we say a simple That was wrong I;m sorry  it closes issues and heals wounds stops things getting worse...I mean when my girlfriend apologises for anything no matter what i always feel so much better!!
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:43 am

I know what you mean yes
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:26 pm

These are the pages H Sophia linked to in an earlier post.









Last edited by Isan on Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:01 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:54 pm

Here is Stuart Lach's commentary on Sheng-yen - worth reading to put this in some context.  I may ask him to comment on this point of view and how it was was lived out in daily life.

http://mandala.hr/samsara/Stuart_Lachs.When_the_Saints_Go_Marching_In.pdf
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:05 pm

[Admin note:  I moved Carol's post about why Schomberg and NCBP left the OBC, in order to place it with the most recent discussion which generated information relevant to her question.  Her post is now found under "Questions about North Cascades" under "OBC Experiences".]
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:38 pm

Interesting read about Walter Nowick and Sheng-yen.
I know Walter was highly regarded in Japan, i believe he died a few years ago,and it went so horribly wrong. I personally feel if he had worked more with Morinaga Roshi things may not have gone the way they did.But that is the point Walter wanted to do it his way his version,half of Walters strength was his teacher,the respect and guidance of his teacher went when he died and Walter was unleashed to do as he wanted. i feel the same with Kennett,she left Japan behind,she left the constraint and guidance behind , the story changes and they become who they are not,One thing that comes across to me in these continuous stories or micro religious power struggles is the complete lack of compassion for other people.The so called teacher really has only eyes for them selves, I have met many ordinary people with no spiritual connection with groups, who act in very wise compassionate ways as part of the way they choose to live. Amazing that abuse and sexual abuse was not challenged early enough,where as Enida and Sophia have recently shown again that belief in their direction has not taken them down a certain path,that is waking up and believing in oneself surely the core of zazen
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:59 am

I mentioned that I shared with Stuart Lachs the article from Sheng Yen that was posted above about not criticizing "pure" teachers and how Eko shared that article with trainees at Shasta.  Stuart was a long-time student of Sheng Yen and very outspoken on Zen myths and abuse of authority.  So I asked him to comment on Sheng Yen's piece.  So this is what he wrote.  I also asked him to add a few paragraphs at the top about his Zen training so there is come context for his comments.  As you will also see in the piece he wrote, Stuart is intimately familiar with the essay, debated Sheng Yen about it, etc.  This is worth reading.  Stuart wrote the commentary below specifically for the OBCC forum.  Thank you, Stuart.  (JB)

From Stuart Lachs – Background:  I started Zen practice in 1967 in NYC with the First Zen Institute. That spring I went to California and kindly and fortunately took part in the first training period at Tassajara Monastery. When returning to NYC I continued with Eido Shimano for two and a half years. In 1980, I left Shimano and joined Walter Nowick's group in Maine (Moonspring Hermitage) for eleven years. In 1981 I returned to NYC and shortly thereafter met Shifu Sheng Yen.

I found him a breadth of fresh air because I liked very much the non-martial atmosphere of his Chan Meditation Center as opposed to the Rinzai style I had been doing up until this time. I also took very much to the hua-t'ou style of meditation as opposed to going through a Rinzai koan curriculum method that I had been doing for close to thirteen years. Nowick told me I finished his koan course though much seemed to be missing and incomplete. At any rate, I took to Sheng Yen's style and did well with the hua-t'ou. After a few years Sheng Yen had me conducting private meditation interviews on retreats and running classes when he went back to Taiwan, which was every other three month period. I also visited Sheng Yen's monastery in Taiwan twice, once doing a solitary month long retreat at his newly purchased temple hill property outside of Taipei. However, over the years I saw a change in Sheng Yen. He had two big building projects: one in upstate NY and the other, really dwarfing the NY project in Taiwan. More and more it seemed to me that everything was run to focus on Sheng Yen. As I told him when I resigned- the Center had become Sheng Yen Inc. and everyone else was a disposable and replaceable part. A friend of mine summed it- he had become a vain old man.  – Stuart Lachs


Josh Baran recently informed me that Shifu Sheng Yen’s article from the July, 1984 issue of his newsletter was posted on the OBC blog. But worse, that the article was used in an argument to silence criticism of a teacher for the now all too common ethical breaches of Zen teachers. I saw on the blog that Josh already linked to my paper “Modern Day Zen Hagiography” in order to place Sheng Yen in a context.

I would like to add more to that context. Sheng Yen constantly presented the Ch’an (Zen) master in the most idealized terms imaginable. It was a constant theme of his - a point that I often argued with him. During a class he was giving on “The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana,” he went into his usual talk on the enlightened master this and the enlightened master that. I raised my hand and asked him, “You have lived on mainland China, you live on Taiwan, you spent six years in Japan studying, and you speak Chinese and Japanese, did you ever meet anyone like this?” He replied “No.” “Was the great master Hsu-yun like this?” Sheng yen replied “I was too young to know.” I then said, “So though you have been in China, Taiwan, and Japan and though you speak both Japanese and Chinese and though you have been with many Ch’an/Zen masters, you have never met anyone who matches the way you describe ‘the enlightened Zen master.’ You are talking fantasy people who as far as you know do not exist, yet you make out like this is the way ordinary Ch’an masters are like.”  He was silent and then continued the class.

I would like to go through the article and comment on a few lines. After saying how a Buddha can only be judged by another Buddha, he goes on to say “the practice of a master can be assessed only by one who is himself a master.” From the context here SY is talking about a Ch’an/Zen master, not a Dharma master, that is, some one who is specialized in teaching the Dharma. However shortly below this remark about a master, SY seems to conflate the two.

SY’s remark implies that Zen masters are only anointed with the title because of their high attainment. Well, Zen mythology would like people to believe this, but it is hardly true, not today and mostly not ever.

Yes, some Zen masters had great attainment but certainly not all- by definition most were average while some were terrible. Historically, Dharma transmission has been given for many reasons besides clear insight: to advance a favored student’s career, good political and /or financial connections that were helpful to the monastery, to spread the master’s lineage as SY did, as a favor for a friend as Shunryu Suzuki did, and as is standard behavior in Soto Zen in Japan, so a priest can be the head of a temple. Today roughly 95% of all Soto priests in Japan have Dharma transmission.    

In my hagiography paper that Josh mentions, I describe the two Dharma transmissions that SY claims to have. The first was given by Dongchu, his teacher of less than two years when he visited him in America and saw SY teaching Ch’an. He gave him Dharma transmission as SY says, “without a ceremony” but with the proviso that he return to Taiwan and take over Dongchu’s monastery when he died. But in fact the case was not so cut and dried, as Dongchu had done a similar thing with two other monks and it was not clear who would take over after Dongchu’s death. In the end, SY took over and built it up to a large and influential center.

SY’s other Dharma transmission came from Lingyuan. SY met Lingyuan while on a furlough in the army. According to SY, he was visiting the same temple as Lingyuan. At night, SY started asking Lingyuan all kinds of questions that supposedly went on for hours. At some point, Lingyuan hit the floor loudly with his hand and shouted, “Put it down!” At that moment, SY says he had an enlightenment experience, though not confirmed by Lingyuan. The next day, SY left and did not see Lingyuan for years. This experience closely resembles Dogen, the founder of Soto Zen in Japan which Shifu would have been very familiar with having studied with Ban Roshi, a disciple of Yasutani who founded the Sanbokyodan sect. Then years later while visiting Taiwan, SY visits Lingyuan. Lingyuan remembers him and SY goes on to say that he is teaching Ch’an. Lingyuan says I should give you a name, that is, Dharma transmission.

So we see in both cases of SY’s Dharma transmissions, the important feature seems to be having a group of followers that you teach, not any great Ch’an awakening. In fact, when we look at the people SY gave Dharma transmission, the case is pretty much the same, at least for his western heirs. They all had a group of people they led. If you read SY’s book, “Ch’an Comes West,” you can see SY stretch to imply that some of his Dharma heirs had a kensho / awakening.  I think in two cases the people do not know themselves, they need to be told by SY that they had an experience.

Returning to the story I related in the beginning of this article, when I asked SY if he knew any Ch’an masters who were as attained as he was describing and he honestly replied “No,” I find it interesting that he did not say Dongchu who is the teacher he spent most time with. He also did not say Ban Roshi. He also did not say Lingyuan. So none of the Ch’an/Zen masters that SY actually studied with, knew and had contact with did not come to his mind when he was asked to name highly attained Zen masters he commonly talked about.

On the next page of the essay, that anyone whose teachings are consistent with correct views of Buddhadharma meets the minimum views of being a master. Is this a Dharma master or a Ch’an master SY is talking about? I think SY is conflating the two. In China, a Dharma master and a Zen master are two different birds, at least they supposedly are. Zen defines itself by four expressions attributed to Bodhidharma, though that is hardly their true source.

1. A special transmission outside the teaching
2. Do not establish word and letters
3. Directly point to the human mind
4. See one’s nature and become a Buddha.

SY’s presentation that mixes up Dharma master and Ch’an/Zen master has no talk of a special transmission outside the teaching or any other of the features that so define Zen, yet he maintains that this person who can appear to talk the talk is beyond being understood or to judged. Why? On what grounds? Here we see SY establishing all authority and avoidance of judgment on words and letters: the receiving of Dharma transmission and being placed in the lineage. Is this not self serving in making himself above question? In fact, in the whole paper, faults are attributed to students. People with titles like himself may have to deal with their karma. Essentially he divides the world into two completely separate classes of people: the general mass of anonymous people and masters. 
 
What SY avoids mentioning in the paper is that Ch’an and Zen masters are mostly a necessity of Zen institutions in order to maintain their idea of unbroken lineage, whatever being a master is based and however their idea of lineage was manufactured to meet the Chinese view of the world based as it is on genealogy. To elevate people with the title Ch’an/Zen master into some special category beyond everyone else’s understanding and judgment is pure idealistic fantasy on SY’s part. It is also self serving in spite of his later talking of being “the same as the rest of you.” Talk of being the same as everyone else is the prerogative of people in power. If a regular member of his group would say “I am the same as everyone else” it would be viewed as out of place- of course you are no different than everyone else! Talk of sameness is reserved for those in power.

But perhaps the most outrageous and ridiculous remark in the whole article is, “Although a master may appear to suffer from the same failings as his disciples, it should be remembered that the mind of the master is ever pure.” How do we know according to SY that this is true? Simple, there would be defects in his teaching? Since according to SY “telling lies, stealing, and chasing women “are not defects in the teaching as long as the supposed enlightened master beyond everyone else’s understanding scolds his disciples for the above mentioned transgressions the defects in the teaching are all of simple theoretical nature: “the principles of causes and conditions, of causes and consequences, and of the middle way.” What a simple and naïve understanding of how groups work, group dynamics, especially so in the context of an organization with so strong a top down hierarchy.

What can it possibly mean that the “mind of the master is ever pure?” SY just states it like an axiom of mathematics. And indeed, he must state it that way because like an axiom of mathematics it can not be proved. Think Euclid’s parallel postulate. It was made an axiom because it could not be derived from other postulates.  It is just announced. But let’s treat it like an axiom of mathematics and we see what develops from accepting it?

Zen in America for the last fifty years has accepted a good part of Zen mythology similar to the fantasy that SY presents here.  The result we have seen is one scandal after another involving supposed enlightened Zen masters who are beyond everyone else’s understanding and judgment. Just this year we have access to the “pure minds” of some of the oldest and best known Zen masters in America, in particular Eido Shimano and Joshu Sasaki.

They convince their supposed loyal followers to cover for the transgressions while marginalizing and running the victims and the messengers out of their castle built of sand leaving hurt people to fare for themselves while they have been able to move on and start anew for fifty years now. But Shimano and Sasaki are just the two most prominent roshis well exposed in the last few years. There have been a string of others.

I would just like to add a personal story around this article. Interestingly, a few weeks after the article was published and Shifu and I had words with me telling him how poor and untimely I thought the paper was, Philip Kapleau from the Rochester Zen Center sent SY a letter endorsing the article- how fine it was and so on.  When I came to the center one evening for a sitting, SY was waiting for me holding up "Roshi Kapleau's" letter and saying how Roshi Kapleau thought it was a terrific article. At that time it was not known that Kapleau did not have Dharma transmission, not that it really mattered, but people thought he did and that meant some thing socially. I looked at SY and laughed in his face- adding "What a surprise, your article says no one can question Kapleau and he thinks it is a great article! Shifu, that article is the worst thing you could have published now." He was speechless.

This article by SY written in 1984 at what appeared to be some height of Zen scandal was the exact wrong article at the exact wrong time and place. Unfortunately, if it was wrong in 1984, it is more wrong being mentioned in 2013.
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:39 pm

Jcbaran wrote:

Stuart Larks
Josh Baran recently informed me that Shifu Sheng Yen’s article from the July, 1984 issue of his newsletter was posted on the OBC blog. But worse, that the article was used in an argument to silence criticism of a teacher for the now all too common ethical breaches of Zen teachers. I saw on the blog that Josh already linked to my paper “Modern Day Zen Hagiography” in order to place Sheng Yen in a context.
.
Stuart's account is very articulate, and I find it remarkable because he could speak so clearly and directly to Shifu Sheng Yen, and also because Sheng Yen could accept, or at least not react aggressively toward him - atypical on both counts.
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:53 pm

Yes, that's an interesting point.  There are / were actually many Buddhist teachers that do / did allow some dissent, some challenging, and they didn't freak out or banish like Kennett did.  We are so used to Kennett and OBC group pathology that it's a shock when we see examples where there is more give and take, more communication, even though Sheng Yen's community was no pillar of open communication, it was clearly a bit more open.  Also I think Stuart is just that kind of person that is very direct, does not hold back, says what he thinks, and didn't suppress his integrity ever.  So good for him.  

I have a friend who was a long-time student at Zen Center in SF, under Suzuki and then Baker - until things got too weird and he left.  He was telling me a story - I can't remember some of the specifics, but Baker ordered him to do something significant, and my friend simply said, "Absolutely not.  I will not do that."  Baker took it, and that was that.  My friend was not expelled or demoted.  Life went on.  Zen Center also had huge communications problems, but it is interesting to note that in some areas, many centers are less authoritarian and independent thinking and behavior are tolerated - at least in some areas.

Also, in some communities, a few senior students are granted the role of challenger or devil's advocate - given a kind of special permission - but no one else can do that.

Especially teachers like Kennett - enneagram 8 / boss / dictator / tyrant characters - they desperately need the challengers - they need them close and they need to listen to them - the challengers can keep them more sane and balanced and prevent them from lashing out.  When teachers like Kennett isolate themselves and surround themselves with slavish devotees, then there is no hope for them, no chance they will not drown in their pathologies, enclosed, sealed in their self-created iron bubble / distortion field.  Sad for them.
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:56 pm

I actually think that that people see this control,  banishment, shunning, having no say,giving up their rights,being bullied as zen practice or training,training for what I am not so sure,i do not see it like that at all, i see it more like the teachers can not accept their selves,their egos their shadows and certainly can not accept other peoples
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:22 am

One correction to Stuart's posting.  He joined Shimano's group in 1970, not 1980.  Typo
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:50 am

When I expressed interest in becoming a monk I was also given the 3 page aforementioned article, "Selecting and Studying Under A Master," to read. It must be an OBC staple!
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:52 am

...or part of the employee handbook.funny
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:12 am

So, Sheng Yen's essay was widely used at Shasta - as their basic teaching on the way trainees were to view "masters" - so it was not a one-time deal, not just a talk by Eko, but an more integral part of their training?
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:07 pm

Yep. I was considering taking one of the monks as a teacher. In addition to the article, he made it clear that he didn't really want a disciple but that he would do it if asked.He mentioned that there would be times when he might be "really cross" with me, but the teacher student relationship was bigger than that.
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:44 pm

That seems odd -  warning someone right off the bat that he might express anger. I guess it's fair disclosure. Did he provide any context, so you would know what was likely to make him cross, and therefore you could try to avoid the triggers? Or maybe it was just his way of saying he doesn't have the right personality to be a teacher, and would rather not be bothered? I would like to hear a monk say that sometime. Lord knows it's true, for some.
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:54 pm

Josh – It may be difficult to get a definitive answer today to your question “it was not a one-time deal, [but] a more integral part of their teaching?”  It would be easy to say that it was RM Eko’s teaching -- who is now gone.  Maybe someone else can verify they are still using the article today….

My personal experience was that this teaching style was used by many of the seniors, including my kyojushi, hence the proverbial, “Just train with it.”  There was no investigating the teacher’s actions as to whether they were causing harm to the one(s) affected and getting back to the affected monk about what could change or resolve the issue.  In fact, as I said before, the senior seniors knew of the Abbot’s eminent departure months before and some of his antics, but they did not act – creating the opportunity to extend the harm done and generating more.

It was also my experience that you had to ‘force’ apologies or explanations, which was very uncomfortable as a junior monk.  You could be seriously admonished in the process and it was easier just to say thank you and go back about your business.  A senior monk’s actions or motivations were hardly ever questioned, particularly the senior senior monks.

Stuart Lachs’ comments touched on what is the crux of the problem for me today.  Being “Great Masters” allowed the actions of the monks in charge to be unchallenged, while training young monks how to turn away from the natural questioning within.  Nowhere in the article do I hear a cheer for the Precepts!  Isn’t THAT our tradition? 
Please thank Mr. Lachs for taking the time to address the article.
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:35 pm

Lise. Much like what Enida just touched upon, I got the sense the monk was setting up the parameters of what the relationship would be. I was supposed to be trusting of his teaching and submissive, even if he was angry at times. I remember he even told me a story about R.M. Jiyu saying or doing questionable things with her disciples, but that the "teacher just knows what is good to do for each student." He also made me read the story about "cutting the cat in two" which also seemed like a warning that teachers don't always do things that make sense. In essence I feel like I was being taught to just trust and have faith and never question things intellectually. 
When he revealed he didn't really want a student, I think it was just an honest slip. It seemed like he just wanted to be left alone to mediate but was willing to do "what was asked" as the old OBC adage goes. 
Needless to say, his reluctance didn't exactly make me feel welcome, and thankfully I decided against becoming a monk. It was back to the career center in search of a better fitting path!  funny
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:52 pm

it all sounds most peculiar and pretty horrible to me.

I liked what Enida posed:
the Precepts!  Isn’t THAT our tradition? 

I would like to say yes,or is it the cart before the horse?
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:28 pm

Maybe the master/disciple protocol should be clarified so that people understand how it interacts (or doesn't) with holding someone accountable to keeping the precept about refraining from doing harm. Or if that is what was supposed to be part of the SA Ethics Committee's remit, but is not any longer, it would help people to know that too. 

I can't picture a legitimate system in the outer world that requires blind trust by one person while the other is allowed to act upon that person without being questioned or held accountable.  Even after four years of talking about this on the forum, I am not much closer to understanding how a seeker could intelligently put herself/himself into this. "Just trust and have faith". And keep your fingers crossed that you won't be abused or exploited - should that be tacked onto it?
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:53 pm

it doesn't pass the smell test.  Well, it stinks.  Makes no common sense or any other sense.  Not Buddhism. Not skillful means.  Not crazy wisdom.  Just crazy, off the mark, compounded confusion and self-promotion.  These "teachings" just perpetuate domination, control, power, turning devotees into sheep - and so there is this story / narrative about how it's divine or spiritual or Zen.... not unlike kings who proclaimed they derived their power from God and had royal blood or Emperors that came from the Sun Goddess or Popes that were infallible or chosen people... all stories that when believed, are deeply harmful for centuries or millennia.  Calling salt sweet does not make it so.
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:59 pm

I have quite a few friends that play guitar, one did a year tour with BB king and then a year tour with Bob Dylan  2 other guys I know have played the same level,they all make playing music seem effortless,so effortless I find my self asking are they really good, they are so relaxed and play just enough.They have never had music lessons,just gifted with a musical ear and nimble fingers. I sometimes feel that the stricter the rules means those that make them do not really know what they are doing,they are holding things together with brute force and fear.
just trust and have faith is a brilliant way to live,to play guitar,and journey through life,but to be under someones command..forget it not for me
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:12 pm

Lise – I am not sure of my intelligence level looking back, but I can say the transition from lay to monk was more like a mystery.  As I said before, I did not have any experience with monasticism, and very little with Buddhism.  When the teachings touched something inside and grew to a point of knocking my socks off, I’m not sure how clearly I was seeing outside of myself.  I have to admit I was naïve and simply thunderstruck by the teachings.

When I first came to the Abbey, the conversation was pretty superficial with the monks and laity.  There was not much information to be had about what it looked like to be a monk and I only gleaned information from what others’ talked about in their experience.  There were choices early on as to how much I participated in the daily schedule and I could sometimes self-direct how much I was capable of.

As soon as the M starting appearing on my forehead and I moved to the monastery, things started to change.  I was asked to come to every cleanup, admonished lightly and generally asked not to say anything in response as to why or why not anymore.  When I postulated and became a member of the community, there were definite spoken and unspoken rules.  I was told by my monastic officer, “Novices are to be seen and not heard….and not always seen.”  The further I waded into monasticism, the more watched and controlled things became.  Like I said, I had to ask to go to the bathroom when I worked in the kitchen.

As someone wrote recently, once you have given away everything you personally own, told your family goodbye and committed to your primary purpose as a monk, it is really hard to turn around.  Especially if you believe deeply in the teachings within your own experience.  Even with the recent events, it took a great effort on my part to return to the world.

That is why I voiced a strong wish to the Faith Trust Institute and in public meetings at Shasta about creating Ethics guidelines (for both Shasta and the Order), having an unbiased venue to be heard (and I mean unbiased), and providing classes to help potential monks, postulants and novices understand what is unacceptable behavior from a teacher, as well as ongoing discussions as a novice as to how that is working, or not.  It appears there is no real commitment to this, even after all of the talkings and meetings regarding the same over the past two-and-a-half years.  Just, “Let’s put this behind us and get on with training.”  Does anyone have any ideas the reasons why (either hypothetical and/or actual)?

Thanks.
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:52 pm

I hope someone addresses your question, Enida. It's hugely important and deserves an answer.

I can see that it's not a matter of intelligence  - if a situation is only made known to you as you get further embedded in it, and personally invested, it can't be framed as an informed choice. It's more like coaxing a frog into a pot of water and turning up the heat slowly, as others have said here.
 
"Novices are to be seen and not heard . . . and not always seen." That what they told children in the old days, wasn't it.  I guess children and novices were good enough for doing the work, though -
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:32 pm

Quote from H Enida

]


That is why I voiced a strong wish to the Faith Trust Institute and in public meetings at Shasta about creating Ethics guidelines (for both Shasta and the Order), having an unbiased venue to be heard (and I mean unbiased), and providing classes to help potential monks, postulants and novices understand what is unacceptable behavior from a teacher, as well as ongoing discussions as a novice as to how that is working, or not.  It appears there is no real commitment to this, even after all of the talkings and meetings regarding the same over the past two-and-a-half years.  Just, “Let’s put this behind us and get on with training.”  Does anyone have any ideas the reasons why (either hypothetical and/or actual)?



I am sure most folks here think this is probably obvious but...

The primary function of the Shasta conditioning was to prevent any questioning of the Shasta conditioning.  Religous power politics, plain & simple!.

Questioning it just weeded out those who becoming unsuitable there.



The common fruit of Shasta's conditioning was the make over of ones worldly ego into it's stickier religious doppelganger.
That complexity of that form of ego seldom gets addressed while any sort of support structure for it remains.

“Let’s put this behind us and get on with training.” is the voice of that ego asking for the most expedient way to bypass any serious questioning of that conditioning.
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:53 pm

Enida said:
That is why I voiced a strong wish to the Faith Trust Institute and in public meetings at Shasta about creating Ethics guidelines (for both Shasta and the Order), having an unbiased venue to be heard (and I mean unbiased), and providing classes to help potential monks, postulants and novices understand what is unacceptable behavior from a teacher, as well as ongoing discussions as a novice as to how that is working, or not. 


Have any of you monks or lay people ever heard anyone describe what is "unacceptable" behavior from an OBC teacher? Or heard of any senior (other than Eko) ever being held accountable for "unacceptable" behavior?
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:24 am

Enida I have a question for you
Does the actual practice of zazen have rules and regulations?
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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:35 am

I bumped into this on-line and thought it would be good to post as part of this discussion.  Do not know this website or the source.  http://www.westernchanfellowship.org/lib/wcf////unethical-zen-masters/ - The writer was a student of Sheng Yen actually, but clearly - at least in words - this fellow has moved away from the early thoughts of his teacher. But I don't know this teacher or his scene, Stuart Lachs might know him. 

Unethical Zen Masters
By: Simon Child, Chuan-fa Jing-hong

There have been several well-publicised scandals involving unethical behaviour by Zen masters. This is not a uniquely Zen problem, nor a uniquely Buddhist problem – there have also been similar problems involving other religions, for example with Christian priests – but I'm going to talk about it from the Zen perspective since that is my tradition, the Chinese Zen tradition of Chan Buddhism.

Article commissioned by Medytacja magazine (Poland).

There have been several well-publicised scandals involving unethical behaviour by Zen masters. This is not a uniquely Zen problem, nor a uniquely Buddhist problem – there have also been similar problems involving other religions, for example with Christian priests – but I'm going to talk about it from the Zen perspective since that is my tradition, the Chinese Zen tradition of Chan Buddhism.

When you hear of such behaviour, perhaps involving misuse of sexuality, power, or money, in someone who is reputed to be an enlightened master, then it raises doubts about the meaning of enlightenment, and the quality of their certification and appointment. If an ‘enlightened master’ can behave this way, does that mean that the concept of enlightenment is a sham? Does it mean that they were incorrectly approved, and if so how can it happen that their teacher made that mistake? Or is there some other explanation?

What is Enlightenment?

When Zen first became known in the West, the concept of enlightenment being accessible to those who practice Zen was very attractive. It is especially attractive to those with difficulty in their lives who hope and imagine that tasting enlightenment will cure all their problems. They project their fantasies and hopes for salvation onto the enlightenment experience, and also onto those Zen masters who are reputed to personify it.

But with Zen being relatively new in the West, and for most of us not part of our culture and upbringing, our understanding of this process may be rather superficial. To untangle this problem we need a deeper understanding of what is meant by enlightenment and Zen training.

All animals have a tendency to interpret the world in terms of its significance for them. This is a biological mechanism, enabling survival in what may be a hostile environment by recognising possible dangers and potential favourable circumstances. Unexpected sound – might be a snake, run away. Colours – might be edible fruit, go and investigate. We humans are complex social beings and add much complexity to this, reacting to opportunities and threats relating to our social position, learning from memories of past events and planning for a better future.

This instinct is important to us as we do need to be able to recognise threats and opportunities, both physical and social. But as a reflex behaviour it is rather crude and does not always serve us well – not all sounds indicate danger, poisonous fruit may be attractively coloured, we may misperceive the attitudes of others, and the future cannot be determined as we are not in control of all the conditions that will create it. We create suffering for ourselves by agonising over lost opportunities and unsuccessful endeavours, with fear of failure in what we seek and of losing what we have gained.

Striving to avoid failure we engage obsessively in trying to interpret the world around us. As a result we hardly ever perceive the world directly; instead we are aware only of our own thoughts about the world. You could say that we inhabit a virtual world of our own creation, full of our conceptions about the world but with no direct contact with the world itself.

If you doubt this, observe your own mind. How often can you rest in pure clear awareness, without replacing this by opinions and judgements? Do you see a landscape, or do you see a ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’ or ‘boring’ landscape? Notice how that value judgement is inserted automatically and unconsciously, and can make it difficult for you to see the actual view in front of you – you may immediately register it as ‘seen’ and turn your attention to something else. Do you see a person, or do you see a ‘friend’ or ‘stranger’ or ‘enemy’? Notice how, even before this categorisation had entered your awareness, you had already started to move towards or away from the person.

A glimpse of enlightenment is a step outside of the virtual world, into a direct perception of the underlying reality. In this state we do not inhabit opinions, we are not anxious about outcomes, and in particular we have stopped creating a sense of duality and opposition between ourselves and the rest of the world. The lack of duality between self and other, and indeed the lack of any sense of ‘self’, abolishes selfishness, and yet our basic self-preserving functions still operate – we can still walk and talk and respond to needs, and will still eat meals and take care when crossing roads. But the usual habitual setting of self before and above others is absent, and so naturally our minds are open and our actions compassionate.

The crucial point to understand is that such an enlightenment experience is a temporary state. Your usual self-centred habits of thought and action return as you slip out of this state back into your usual way of perceiving and interacting in the world. So is this experience of any value? Yes. It confirms to you that such a state of direct contact with nature is possible. It provides a ‘reference point’ for understanding your future states, highlighting to you just how much you live in a dualistic self-cherishing manner disconnected from direct contact with life. But far from freeing you of all of this, as you may have fantasised, instead the enlightenment experience highlights to you just how much work there is still to be done. This is why in Chan it is said that an enlightenment experience marks the beginning of practice, not the end.

I sometimes put it this way – the purpose of practice is not to reveal enlightenment to you, but to reveal your obstructions and bad habits! There may be some relationship between enlightenment and practice but we should look at it the opposite way around to what you might assume. If you practice purifying your mind and awareness then you may be more likely to have an enlightenment experience. But even better, if you have an enlightenment experience then you are better placed to continue practice to deepen your insight and work on your remaining obstructions.

Perhaps we could discuss the fully-enlightened state of Buddhahood, when all obstructions have been resolved, but to do so would rekindle our fantasies about enlightenment. Most masters have had a glimpse of enlightenment, but are not fully-enlightened Buddhas. Certainly I would make no such claim for myself, indeed I would deny it!

Students and Masters

By itself an enlightenment experience is not sufficient qualification to become a teacher. The potential teacher needs to continue practice of meditation and keeping precepts, to stabilise and develop their insight and ethical behaviour. If they also have sufficient knowledge and communication skills then some time later it may be possible to consider appointing them as teachers.

A person who has had such an experience has not become some superhuman perfect being. They are still subject to human frailties including selfish thoughts. Hopefully they will now be more aware of this, and have learned how to continue their practice to work on their karmic tendencies, and so may create less harm than previously. But still it might happen that they behave unskilfully and we should not be confused by that even if they are in the role of teacher.

There can be a difficult and destructive dynamic between teachers and students which can make this problem more extreme. Students may project onto their teacher their hopes for an infallible perfect teacher who will give them total enlightenment. The teacher may collude with this, for reasons of status or because they also believe that one is perfected by an enlightenment experience. Such a teacher can become trapped in this charade – to keep their role the teacher has to continue to project an image of perfection. How do they understand their own imperfections, which contradict their public and private image of perfection? Perhaps they deny them, which means they do not work on them. Or perhaps, even more dangerously, they tell themselves that since they are enlightened then they can do nothing wrong – that whatever they do, even seemingly unethical actions, are just their own expression of enlightenment. Here we have a recipe for disaster – an imperfect teacher who suppresses their own awareness of their unresolved imperfections, interacting with hopeful students who trust their teacher absolutely but inappropriately.

The significant error here is to place too much emphasis on the experience of enlightenment. To the general public, and to some Zen practitioners, and perhaps also for some Zen teachers, it can be seen as the goal of practice, with a belief that once achieved then practice is complete. This is a very severe and dangerous misunderstanding. Much more important is to cultivate a practice of awareness and ongoing investigation of one’s karmic tendencies, which will enable one to notice and intercept one’s own selfish thoughts before they are translated into harmful actions.

To reduce the risk of future problems, both students and teacher need a better understanding of the purpose of Zen training, and to drop any fantasies regarding enlightenment experiences. Masters must have the humility to recognise that they too may have faults, and diligently continue their practice to continue the process of purifying their thoughts and actions. And students have responsibilities too. They must not be star-struck – they must realise that their teachers are human and they must not be shocked if their teachers show human frailties. But they should be shocked, and complain, if their teacher takes an incorrect attitude to their own errors: claiming these are their expression of enlightenment; harming others yet not admitting fault; or failing to continue their own practice of investigation and purification.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:32 am

The Buddha specifically said that his disciples should carefully scrutinize his behavior, to see if he is true to his teaching, if he is authentic, living what he is preaching - and he specifically says they do not need some super powers to check him out.  Vimamsaka Sutta.  here is an audio commentary:

http://audio.buddhistdoor.com/eng/play/1098
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:15 am

Josh,

Thanks for posting the `Unethical Zen Masters` article.  I think it`s excellent and it elucidates
many key topics that should have been investigated long ago.  This should be required reading
for anyone entering a monastery and should be talked through thoroughly and explored in a
group environment.  An environment where tough questions are permitted and encouraged.

I always thought it was extraordinary that so called Enlightenment or the aim of training was
never fully elucidated in the monastery. It was always rather vague... it could be almost anything
as there isn`t a standard accepted definition.  `You`ll know it if you get it` or just `training is
endless`.  Even the paradoxes of the morning scriptures were left unexplained to the newcomer.
Jiyu said that it normally takes about thirty years to complete one`s training in a japanese
monastery but,.....what is that point ?  What is one expected to achieve realistically ?  Most
people that I know certainly don`t seem enlightened after 30 years of Zen training.  What did we
actually sign up for ?

"The crucial point to understand is that such an enlightenment experience is a temporary state."

That was an excellent point.  Anything that is an experience or a state is temporary . All
experiences occur in time. they have a begining and an end. They can`t be made permanent so
there can be no master that has a permanent enlightenment experience.  Only understanding
gleaned from these experiences can be permanent, as knowledge isn`t time constrained.
Knowledge doesn`t require a severe regimen or a `boot camp` methodology to attain.  It should
be passed on by `equals`, the teacher should be a friend and not someone `raining down` the
dharma from on high.  It`s simply counter productive.

As regards the Student and Masters aspect, I believe there should be a clear distinction made
between a Master of the teaching and the Master of the teaching with mastery of him/her self.
Only the latter should be recognised as a true zen Master...that should `thin the herd` greatly.
Lastly....

"And students have responsibilities too. They must not be star-struck"

Absolutely...Blind faith in the teacher..or anything...is always a mistake and leads to a painful
learning curve. We all hate that feeling of being `suckered`...especially when we have set
ourselves up for it !  It should be faith pending the results of our training and assessing the
efficacy of the teacher over time.  If it doesn`t work, it`s time to walk and try elsewhere.
The student has a definite responsibility to him/her self.

Thanks for posting a really good article.
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H Enida



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Join date : 2013-11-11

PostSubject: Re: Offering Correction to a Teacher - is this "good to do"?   Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:01 am

Good morning all,

As novices we had classes on the "Taitaikoho" and how to translate that today.  I don't know if any of you have access to the text we can publish here, but I would appreciate your comments about it. It was the one of the main teachings we studied in classes as novices when I was at the Abbey.
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